The only complete NFL season Josh Gordon has played was his rookie year. By his second year in Cleveland, despite missing two games for a drug suspension, he was voted first-team All-Pro after 1,646 yards on 87 receptions, including becoming the first player in NFL history with 200-yard games back to back.
But he can’t seem to replicate anything good because he can’t stay clean long enough to pass a random drug test by the NFL.
It’s the reason in 2019 he played in only five Seahawks games, with seven catches for 139 yards, before being suspended indefinitely.
But on Nov. 11, his Seattle debut, he had two catches for 27 yards in the Seahawks’ best game of the season, a 27-24 overtime win over the 49ers in Santa Clara. He created a three-wide threat for Russell Wilson with Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf that likely caused even CB Richard Sherman to swallow hard despite a dry mouth.
Then he did this in Week 15 in a 30-24 win over Carolina:
Catching only with fingertips, while horizontal, at full speed, the back end of a high-velocity ball, needs to be an Olympic event. Until that becomes official, we’ll award Gordon the unofficial gold medal for that 58-yard completion.
That’s why the Seahawks re-signed Gordon Friday, even though he remains suspended. Coach Pete Carroll is willing to wait on almost anyone who can do such feats.
“We have no word from the league yet,” Carroll said. “We just have to wait and see when, but we’re happy to have to the opportunity to bring him to our club.” He dodged a question about why now, as opposed to two weeks ago or next week.
Gordon, 29, is a self-admitted addict, going back to sixth grade in his hometown of Houston. He will always be in recovery, and is at risk to relapse.
It’s also possible he can stay sober for good.
The risk seems worth it to Carroll and the players because they see Gordon as self-destructive, not team-destructive (see Antonio Brown in Pittsburgh; Percy Harvin, Seattle, Earl Thomas, Baltimore).
“I have been in contact with him over the off-season, just to keep track of what’s going on,” Carroll said on a Zoom conference Thursday. “Through this time, I’ve seen nothing but a guy really that wants to make a life of this NFL experience. He wants to do something with it in the worst way. He worked out with our guys a lot in the off-season. They kind of keep us up on how that was going. Then I would get some news reports from Josh.
“He’s just done everything that he could have done. There’s been no issues, no problems, nothing. People at the league office, they know Josh pretty well, and they hold him in high regard for all that he’s been through. It speaks to his character because he’s had issues, but he has been a terrific young man. I’m really pleased to have a chance to give him an opportunity again.”
The day after Gordon’s spectacular catch, the NFL suspended him for violating the league’s policies on substances of abuse and performance-enhancing drugs. Unless Gordon chooses o, no one will identify the drugs. But, for example, marijuana and Adderall, used widely throughout pro sports and probably in the SUVs of many teachers across America this week, are enough to create the violations.
ESPN reported the suspension was Gordon’s sixth since the 2013 season and his fifth for some form of substance abuse. Gordon’s attorney, Adam Kenner, told ESPN in June that Gordon’s latest suspension was the result of a setback after the death of his older brother. Gordon tweeted about it Nov. 11, the day he made his debut in the win over the Niners.
It’s left to wonder whether Gordon’s talents might have reversed the outcome of the regular-season finale against San Francisco, a 26-21 defeat at the Clink after the Seahawks came up about an inch short of the likely game-winning touchdown.
Speculation has been that since a typical suspension for the violations is six games, he might be forced to sit out the first two games of 2020, following the four he missed last season, including two playoff games.
Whenever he returns, he’ll be a quick contender for the No. 3 receiver spot, a position the Seahawks are finding hard to fill.
The Seahawks in free agency hired Phillip Dorsett, but a chronic foot problem has cut into his practice time. This week, the Seahawks rehired Paul Richardson, Seattle’s second-round pick in the 2014 draft who’s coming off two injury-shortened seasons in Washington. Carroll sounded surprisingly dubious.
“It’s been really tough for Paul,” he said. “He comes from home, and we’re going at such a clip right now. Today was the only day really got to practice.”
So that leaves incumbent David Moore, a seventh-rounder from the 2017 draft who in 14 games last season caught 17 balls in 34 targets from one of the game’s most accurate passers.
It’s possible that Gordon’s abrupt signing was because his potential contribution is drifting in Seattle from a want to a need. If it takes another couple of weeks, he seems worth it.
Then all Gordon needs to do is manage his wants.